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Weapons charges against Khama’s security withdrawn

A case in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s two private security detail Thato Refilwe Kopong and Mike Mareledi Maake were accused of trying to assassinate President Mokgweetsi Masisi in Palapye, was withdrawn yesterday (Friday), by Magistrate Reuben Sebetela at Palapye Magistrate Court.

On October 4th the accused Kopong and Maake were arraigned before Sebetela on a charge of unlawful possession of a weapon, contrary to section 25 (1) (b) of the Arms and Ammunition Act, No. 19 of 2008. Sometime early this year the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS), through their Director General Peter Magosi reported assassination attempts on President Mokgweetsi Masisi. In his rigours of validating this threat, DIS Director General Magosi indicated that his duty is to protect the President and he will not be shaken.

It later emerged that the men or would be assassins fingered in this attempts want to use a ‘toy gun’ purchased over the counter to kill the President, the court confirmed this week. The court in Palapye heard that the “weapon” in the basis of the charge is actually a paint ball gun, purchased over the counter.

On the same date, the Defence raised an exception to the charge on the basis that the charge does not disclose any offence cognizable by the court, in terms of section 150 (1) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. The Court ordered that the argument on the exception will be heard on November 8th 2019.

When the case was called on 8th November (yesterday), the Prosecutor was not ready to argue and requested a postponement on the basis that the prosecution was still waiting for legal advice from the Legislative Drafting Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers. Defence opposed the application for postponement and moved the court to hear the case as ordered on the 4th October. The Magistrate, after hearing a short argument by the Defence, ordered that the case be withdrawn because the State is not ready to prosecute it and declared the two accused persons discharged.

This publication had reported that an unswerving source within the former President’s security detail has revealed that the weapons confiscated by members of the Directorate and Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) at Palapye are described and known as the Tippmann X TiPX. A 68 Caliber Paintball Pistol, which is generally used by the former President’s private security on daily basis while on duty.

One of the accused men Mike Maake, has his resume sprinkled with bouts at the commando unit of the Botswana Defence Force; and being an agent of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS). He is currently an employee of Avante Security Services, where he is on secondment to Khama’s private security detail.

Early this year at a press conference, DIS Director General Brigadier Peter Magosi said it is a fact that the security environment of the country has changed and hence the need to beef up. Brigadier Magosi went on to admit that there is a third force in the Masisi/ Khama feud, alleging that Masisi’s life is under threat. The weapons that could have attempted to end the President’s life have been revealed and when interrogating the make of the said weapons, this publication discovered a TiPX Pistol is a ‘paintball’.

This is a great solo marker or tactical backup sidearm, adding a new dimension to the marksman game. The TiPX also features an under- barrel Picatinny rail, external velocity adjuster and clear ammo windows, so that the user can see if it’s loaded, a removable barrel with A5 threads, ability to add a remote line, and foam lined hard shell carry case.

According to the Khama Security detail source, the weapons can be bought locally at firearms dealer shops and do not require any license. “They are not designed to kill but used in self- defense. This one here costs P 4799. 00 and bought over the counter,” the source said.
According to the TiPX Website, “the all- new Tippmann Arms TIPX offers the general public the same non- lethal tool that security and law enforcement personnel use around the world.

Whether for home defense personal protection, or security, the TIPX delivers the stopping power needed to neutralize the target giving one time to plan their next move or call for backup. Hot pepper rounds burst on impact creating a cloud of dust around the target causing extreme pain and respiratory distress.”  

It further reads: “Whatever was on their mind prior to being hit, is a distant memory. The TIPX uses standard easy-to-find 12 gram CO2 cartridges. The first trigger pull of the TIPX punctures the cartridge powering up the pepper gun. At this time you are now ready to fire and take charge of the situation.”  The TiPX is owned by US Personal Defense Products LLC, the SOLE U.S. Distributor of the JPX in the US and every JPX 2 and JPX 4 are all considered LAW ENFORCEMENT grade products. Every JPX 2 and JPX 4 listed online or found in a retail store are LAW ENFORCEMENT grade products.

Khama’s response;

‘In February some of my private security team were arrested by the police on instructions from DIS (Magosi) for being in possession of weapons (paint ball guns, toys) in Palapye. They were being linked to me in a plan to assassinate Masisi in another state sponsored action to defame me. They were today acquitted of being in possession of weapons. The story by those in the well- known captured media who were told to put out was that these were to be used against Masisi, you may remember.

More dishonesty and lies against me have been exposed as the court ordered the case be withdrawn. I now hope going forward these irresponsible allegations against me will cease. The only assassination attempts that remain are those attempts against my character by the State which are factual, whilst there are those against my person, yet to be proven.

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Veteran journalist Karima Brown succumbs to COVID-19

4th March 2021
Karima-Brown

South Africa’s veteran journalist and broadcaster, Karima Brown has died on Thursday morning from COVID-19 related complications.

Media reports from the neighbouring country say Brown had been hospitalized and on a ventilator.

Brown anchored eNCA’s The Fix and was a regular political analyst on the eNCA channel.

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Botswana imports in numbers

1st March 2021
Botswana-imports

For so many years, Botswana has been trying to be a self-sufficient country that is able to provide its citizens with locally produced food products. Through appropriate collaborations with parastatals such as CEDA, ISPAAD and LEA, government introduced initiatives such as the Horticulture Impact Accelerator Subsidy-IAS and other funding facilities to facilitate horticultural farmers to increase production levels.

Now that COVID-19 took over and disrupted the food value chain across all economies, Botswana government introduced these initiatives to reduce the import bill by enhancing local market and relieve horticultural farmers from loses or impacts associated with the pandemic.

In more concerted efforts to curb these food crises in the country, government extended the ploughing period for the Southern part of Botswana. The extension was due to the late start of rains in the Southern part of the country.

Last week the Ministry of Agriculture extended the ploughing period for the Northern part of the country, mainly because of rains recently experienced in the country. With these decisions taken urgently, government optimizes food security and reliance on local food production.

When pigs fly, Botswana will be able to produce food to feed its people. This is evident by the numbers released by Statistics Botswana on imports recorded in November 2020, on their International Merchandise Trade Statistics for the month under review.

The numbers say Botswana continues to import most of its food from neighbouring South Africa. Not only that, Batswana relies on South Africa to have something to smoke, to drink and even use as machinery.

According to data from Statistics Botswana, the country’s total imports amounted to P6.881 Million. Diamonds contributed to the total imports at 33%, which is equivalent to P2.3 Million. This was followed by food, beverages and tobacco, machinery and electrical equipment which stood at P912 Million and P790 Million respectively.

Most of these commodities were imported from The Southern African Customs Union (SACU). The Union supplied Botswana with imports valued at over P4.8 Million of Botswana’s imports for the month under review (November 2020). The top most imported commodity group from SACU region was food, beverages and tobacco, with a contribution of P864 Million, which is likely to be around 18.1% of the total imports from the region.

Diamonds and fuel, according to these statistics, contributed 16.0%, or P766 Million and 13.5% or P645 Million respectively. Botswana also showed a strong and desperate reliance on neighbouring South Africa for important commodities. Even though the borders between the two countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, government took a decision to open border gates for essential services which included the transportation of commodities such as food.

Imports from South Africa recorded in November 2020 stood at P4.615 Million, which accounted for 67.1% of total imports during the month under review. Still from that country, Botswana bought food, beverages and tobacco worth P844 Million (18.3%), diamonds, machinery and fuel worth P758 Million, P601 Million and P562 Million respectively.

Botswana also imported chemicals and rubber products that made a contribution of 11.7% (P542.2 Million) to total imports from South Africa during the month under review, (November 2020).

The European Union also came to Botswana’s rescue in the previous year. Botswana received imports worth P698.3 Million from the EU, accounting for 10.1% of the total imports during the same month. The major group commodity imported from the EU was diamonds, accounting for 86.9% (P606.6 Million), of imports from the Union. Belgium was the major source of imports from the EU, at 8.9% (P609.1 Million) of total imports during the period under review.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Thapelo Matsheka says an improvement in exports and commodity prices will drive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Growth in the region is anticipated to recover modestly to 3.2% in 2021. Matsheka said this when delivering the Annual Budget Speech virtually in Gaborone on the 1st of February 2021.

He said implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), which became operational in January 2021, could reduce the region’s vulnerability to global disruptions, as well as deepen trade and economic integration.

“This could also help boost competition and productivity. Successful implementation of AfCFTA will, of necessity, require Member States to eliminate both tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and generally make it easier to do business and invest across borders.”

Matsheka, who is also a Member of Parliament for Lobatse, an ailing town which houses the struggling biggest meat processing company in the country- Botswana Meat Commission, (BMC), said the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) recognizes the need to prioritize the key processes required for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The revised SACU Tariff Offer, which comprises 5,988 product lines with agreed Rules of Origin, representing 77% of the SACU Tariff Book, was submitted to the African Union Commission (AUC) in November 2020. The government is in the process of evaluating the tariff offers of other AfCFTA members prior to ratification, following which Botswana’s participation in AfCFTA will come to effect.”

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Sheila Tlou: On why women don’t get votes

1st March 2021
Sheila Tlou

BARAPEDI KEDIKILWE

Women continue to shadow men in politics – stereotypes such as ‘behind every successful man there is a woman’ cast the notion that women cannot lead. The 2019 general election recorded one of Botswana’s worst performances when it comes to women participation in parliamentary democracy with only three women elected to parliament.

Botswana’s former Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Tlou who is currently the Co-Chair, Global HIV Prevention Coalition & Nursing Now and an HIV, Gender & Human Rights Activist is not amused by the status quo. Tlou attributes this dilemma facing women to a number of factors, which she is convinced influence the voting patterns of Batswana when it comes to women politicians.

Professor Tlou plugs the party level voting systems as the first hindrance that blocks women from ascending to power. According to the former Minister of Health, there is inadequate amount of professionalism due to corrupt internal party structures affecting the voters roll and ultimately leading to voter apathy for those who end up struck off the voters rolls under dubious circumstances.

Tlou also stated that women’s campaigns are often clean; whilst men put to play the ‘politics is dirty metaphor using financial muscle to buy voters into voting for them without taking into consideration their abilities and credibility. The biggest hurdle according to Tlou is the fallacy that ‘Women cannot lead’, which is also perpetuated by other women who discourage people from voting for women.

There are numerous factors put on the table when scrutinizing a woman, she can be either too old, or too young, or her marital status can be used against her. An unmarried woman is labelled as a failure and questioned on how she intends on being a leader when she failed to have a home. The list is endless including slut shaming women who have either been through a divorce or on to their second marriages, Tlou observed.

The only way that voters can be emancipated from this mentality according to Tlou is through a robust voter education campaign tailor made to run continuously and not be left to the eve of elections as it is usually done. She further stated that the current crop of women in parliament must show case their abilities and magnify them – this will help make it clear that they too are worthy of votes.

And to women intending to run for office, Tlou encouraged them not to wait for the eleventh hour to show their interest and rather start in community mobilisation projects as early as possible so that the constituents can get to know them and their abilities prior to the election date.

Youthful Botswana National Front (BNF) leader and feminist, Resego Kgosidintsi blames women’s mentality towards one another which emanates from the fact that women have been socialised from a tender age that they cannot be leaders hence they find it difficult to vote for each other.

Kgosidintsi further states that, “Women do not have enough economic resources to stage effective campaigns. They are deemed as the natural care givers and would rather divert their funds towards raising children and building homes over buying campaign materials.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Alliance for Progressives (AP), Wynter Mmolotsi agrees that women’s participation in politics in Botswana remains a challenge. To address this Mmolotsi suggested that there should be constituencies reserved for women candidates only so that the outcome regardless of the party should deliver a woman Member of Parliament.

Mmolotsi further suggested that Botswana should ditch the First Past the Post system of election and opt for the proportional representation where contesting parties will dutifully list able women as their representatives in parliament.

On why women do not get elected, Mmolotsi explained that he had heard first hand from voters that they are reluctant to vote for women since they have limited access to them once they have won; unlike their male counterparts who have proven to be available night or day.

The pre-historic awarding of gender roles relegating women to be pregnant and barefoot at home and the man to be out there fending for the family has disadvantaged women in political and other professional careers.

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